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In and around Mantraalaya:
Because of an early start, we managed to have a stress-free darshan at the temple. Members of the male gender are required to remove their shirts and vests before entering the inner portion of the temple – a practice that I have never been able to comprehend. Defies logic! How does it matter to God whether you wear them or not? All that is required is a pure heart and mind. In fact, this is a rule followed in many temples of South India.
Behind the temple flows the Tungabhadra river. As you approach the river you can find people washing cars, washing clothes, and washing themselves – all in the same water. Nearby, a sewage pipe silently empties into these waters!
Two things strike you in Mantraalaya:
- The plethora of beggars – young and old, male and female – who go to great lengths to extract money from you. They follow you over great distances shouting out reasons why you should give them some money.
- The hordes of pigs. There’s just so many of them.
The other place of interest is the Panchamukhi Anjaneya temple, situated about 22 kilometers from Mantraalaya and inside the Karnataka state border. This is the place where Sri Raghavendra Swamy performed penance for twelve years.
To get there, you can either:
- Book a rickshaw that can comfortably seat six people and costs about 170 rupees for the two-way journey.
- Book an air-conditioned Mahindra Bolero jeep that costs about 350 rupees for the same journey.
The road on the Karnataka side is in a dilapidated condition (it’s excellent on the Andhra side). So, be prepared for a bumpy ride, especially if you chose the auto-rickshaw.
Coming back from Panchamukhi, we had lunch and then went back to the room, where we just slept through the afternoon. Madhavan, the hero in the movie “Rehna Hain Tere Dil Mein,” kept us company, as we slept.
At 17:00, it was time to pack up and head back to Bangalore.
From Mantraalaya to Bangalore:
Our return journey too was on a KSRTC super-deluxe bus – this time a Rajahamsa. For 215 rupees, you get only the comfortable push-back seats. The bus departed from Mantraalaya at 18:00 and arrived in Bangalore at 04:30, with a stopover in Adoni for dinner. Since I had already slept through a major chunk of the afternoon, my night was spent staring out into the vast open fields and the moonlit sky, all the time thinking about the past, the present, and the future.
At 05:30, I was back home.
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